I did it! I completed the Chicago Marathon!
Before I get into the marathon, I have to say that the very best part of my Chicago Marathon experience was sharing it with Sonja (my daughter). I am so glad she was there with me and her support meant everything to me. She always seems to come up with little things that make the whole experience even more special. She arrived in Chicago a couple of days after me, but wanted to go to the expo so I waited for her. I am so glad I did. We had a great time. We walked around the expo in these sweatshirts that she had personalized: Hers said “Go Cathy” and mine had “Chicago Marathon Runner 2017” on the front and “Finish Strong 26.2″on the back. So fun!!
So for the marathon recap:
Even though I left my hotel (within walking distance) at 5:30 am for a 7:30 start, I didn’t feel like I had a lot of wait time. My corral was pretty easy to find so the next thing to do was to get in line for the bathroom. This is pretty much the marathoner routine at the start. Afterwards, I took a few minutes to stretch a little and ate about a half of a banana and drank more water. Then, I thought that I should try the bathroom one more time, but the line was much longer at this point. I was worried that my corral would close (the bathrooms are past security but not inside the actual corral), so I left without going….more about that later (just what you wanted to hear right?? ha ha)
Because I was in the the last corral (E) in the first wave, it took about 15 or 20 minutes to get to the start. I really wanted to start out easy so that I wouldn’t burn myself out way too early. And the first few miles went great. I couldn’t figure out my pace really because my Garmin was reading all kinds of crazy things. It definitely was not reliable. So, I just went by how I felt.
The only annoyance in those first few miles was that I had to go to the bathroom! I never, ever have had to stop during the marathon to go to the bathroom, but it was so early in the race, so I didn’t think it was going to have much of an impact on my time.
I kept missing the mile marker signs so I wasn’t sure what pace I was on. But, I did feel like it was a bit too easy (which was confirmed later). Even before the race started, I knew I would not get a BQ (Boston qualifier) for two reasons. First, my training had not gone as planned. I just had a lot of other things going on this summer which did impact my training. And second, I knew that it was going to get really warm and I do not run well in warm temperatures. I am used to running in the low to mid 60s for the most part. But, I still wanted to do the best that I could. As it turned out, it did heat up to about 80!
What is amazing to me in the marathon is how great you can feel one minute and then all of a sudden you just don’t. I have never felt this so clearly as I did in this race. I was running along feeling great! I was loving and enjoying the music that was being played and the spectators were awesome! I clearly remember getting just past 15 miles thinking how awesome this race is and how great I felt…AND THEN all of a sudden my thighs started feeling heavy….noticeably??? I was actually a little shocked really. I usually don’t start feeling the effects of glycogen depletion until about 20-22 miles, sometimes maybe a little earlier depending on the race course.
I just didn’t understand how this could be happening so early. I felt like I did everything right. I got to Chicago a few days early so that I could get rested and hydrated. Sonja and I spent a little time at the expo but we didn’t overdo it. She is the Uber Queen and we took Uber everywhere. I felt like I was eating well. We went to Carmines and had an early dinner and pretty much straight back to the room to relax. Just a little side note: what was really cool at dinner was that a dear friend of mine (Patti Myers) who I haven’t seen since pretty much Nursing School came all the way up from Indianapolis to see me. I had a great time catching up with her. No selfies??? What happened there?? I thought I would get to spend more time with her before she left, but I was sidelined after the race 🙁 Anyways, back to the recap – I ate breakfast about 2 hours before the race and had a banana and more water about half an hour before the start as I mentioned earlier.
Also, I took water at every single water stop. I wanted to stay hydrated and knew that could become an issue as the temperatures began to rise. I started taking Gatorade at about 45 minutes and then I would take it at every other aid station and water at the aid stations when I wasn’t drinking Gatorade. Sometimes I did both at the same stop. Along with that I started taking Sports Beans or Stingers about every 30 minutes or so. Is it possible to take in too much sugar and then crash?? Or did I do what I needed to, but was just simply undertrained??
I actually didn’t follow a specific training plan, but I used the guidelines from Hanson’s Marathon Method…well sort of. I really lacked in the specific strength and speed workouts because of achilles tendonitis flareups, but I was able to get in the longer runs and my mileage ranged from 36 to 47 miles/week in the last few weeks before the taper with my longest run at 18 miles (not exactly Hanson’s way).
So, I am still trying to figure out why my race didn’t go so well. As I mentioned above, I ran through the 15 mile marker and started feeling the heaviness in my thighs. I knew this was not a good thing to be happening so early! By 18 miles my thighs were cramping pretty bad and by 21 miles my left calf joined them. I felt horrible! I would have to stop and walk a few seconds frequently during those last few very painful miles. All I could think about was getting to the finish. Sonja was out on the course cheering me on and I do remember someone yelling my name but I never saw her. 🙁
I don’t really know how far it was from the finish to the meet up with family area. I don’t think it was as long as the death march to the family meet-up in NYC marathon, but it sure felt like it. I felt really sick to my stomach which never happens to me in any race. I wanted to sit down, but I didn’t think I would be able to get back up ha ha. And when Sonja met up with me she immediately hailed a pedicab which at first I was resistant to. I thought I could walk back to the hotel. Clearly I wasn’t thinking! My brain was now depleted of sugar as well.
I literally sat down in that pedicab and I don’t think I have ever been so happy ha ha. My daughter caught the moment. Love it! She got us back to the hotel, got some food and the one thing I needed the most – a coke! It was the best coke I have ever had! Ha! And I was so happy that she was okay to hang out in the hotel and not do anything for the rest of the day. I just didn’t want to move at all. I know this is not the right thing to do after a marathon, but it felt right at the time.
While she was out, she had picked up a congratulatory bottle of champagne and a bottle of wine that my husband had left at the front desk with a very sweet message congratulating me on completing the Chicago Marathon.
Even though my race didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I actually loved the Chicago Marathon! I loved the area, the course, the spectators….everything about it. I would definitely do it again. In fact, registration is open and it is killing me not to sign up for next year. I think it would be fun to go with Sonja, Matt, and the kids along with Scott and anybody else that wants to come. The new baby (I think its a girl) will only be about a couple of months old though – yes! Sonja was pregnant while taking care of me in Chicago.
And I could’t figure out why she was not feeling well at times. I thought it was the fact that she had just worked four 12 hour night shifts and then took a red-eye flight to Chicago! Poor thing. She must have been miserable, but she didn’t appear that way. That is Sonja though.
Just a little side note: This is the cutest announcement…Love it! Truly Alaskan 🙂
Sonja and I did eventually get out to do a couple of touristy things before we left. There is so much to do in Chicago so we decided to just pick a couple of things and really enjoy them vs trying to fit many things in. We only had one day to be tourists.
But first, we had to go to the Nike store for the finisher’s jacket. They didn’t have it in stock, but I was able to order it and have it shipped home. I will say that the NYC expo and after race /next day events were definitely a lot more fun than Chicago.
We had just enough time to get to the next item on our agenda which was the Architectural River Cruise. We both loved it!! We learned so much about the history of Chicago which gave us a little more appreciation for the city.
Then I wanted to find the Chicago Bean (Cloud Gate) so we headed to the Millennium Park and had a great time there as well.
The park area had beautiful flowers for this time of the year.
Next on the list was a deep dish pizza. You can ask a dozen different people about the best place to have a Chicago deep dish pizza and you will get a dozen different answers it seems. So, we went to Giordano’s Pizza because it was close by in the down town area. It was really good!
After that, we took a little break at the hotel with a plan to head out to the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) later. Sonja had specifically wanted to go around sunset or at least nighttime to get the full affect of the city lights. When we got to the Tower, we were told that it was about a 2 hour wait! We got in line as we were trying to make a decision of whether or not the wait was worth it. Sonja, though, decided to go online to see if she could get us tickets so that we wouldn’t have to wait as long. And she saved us a little more than an hour wait time by that little brainiac move! Technology!
I had a little anxiety while waiting my turn to go out on the glass ledge. This Skydeck is over 1300 feet in the air on the 103rd floor and extends greater than 4 feet out! Sonja had to keep telling me to calm down and be patient ha ha. Standing out on that clear ledge over the city, though, was pretty scary. Sonja was able to get a pretty good pic of me, but I am not as good with taking pictures so I didn’t do quite as well for her. She was not up for staying out there any longer than she had to let alone wait for me to figure out the best way to take a photo! 🙂
Being that we had early flights out the next day, we headed back to the hotel. Sonja was heading back to Alaska and I was going to go visit my Mother in NC. I was so sad to have this time with Sonja and the whole Chicago experience end. But, I am also very glad that she was there with me! She made it more than just another race.
So, I have not BQ’d yet but I will. Right now I am trying to decide if I want to continue training through the winter for the Phoenix marathon or take a break and run the Humpy’s Marathon here in Alaska this August. Maybe I will do better on my own turf where I am already acclimatized to the mild temperatures and hopefully not run the risk of being overheated like I did at Chicago. 20% of Phoenix marathoners qualify for Boston and 17% of those running Humpy’s qualify. Not bad for either.
Decisions, decisions! In the meantime, I will just keep my running base and try to build some strength. Oh, and I could improve my diet as well…yeah that definitely needs refined….
Until next time….